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by on October 12, 2012

The FashionIndie FilmInstitue (FIFI) gives the close-up on fashionable films from a bygone era. This week we take a look at a low-budget horror classic inspired by fashion sketches, 1942′s Cat People.

FashionIndie Film Institute: <i>Cat People</i>

French actress Simone Simon stars as Serbian-born fashion illustrator Irena Dubrovna, plagued by fears that she’s the descendant of an ancient race of people that turn into cats whenever hot under the collar.
FashionIndie Film Institute: <i>Cat People</i>

The film was directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Val Lewton for under $150,000, resulting in its use of subtlety, suggestion and shadow. Lewton, inspired by French fashion sketches depicting female models with the heads of cats, made the most of his meager budget.

FashionIndie Film Institute: <i>Cat People</i>

Unable to afford flashy special effects and grotesque makeup, Lewton and Tourneur kept the evil hidden as Irena succumbs to her feline ferocity over a perceived rival for her husband’s affections.

Shot in only 18 days, Cat People‘s stylish and seductive take on horror revolutionized the genre, winning over both audiences and critics, while earning over $4 million worldwide. But for all its tricks and treats, Cat People is still not quite as creepy as this:

FashionIndie Film Institute: <i>Cat People</i>

This bitch will claw your eyes out.

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Contributed by Lester Brathwaite

I was center square from 1969 to 1978, during which I perfected the art of the zing as well as a crippling cocaine addiction. Bea Arthur was responsible for both. @LesFabian lester dot brathwaite at gmail